Who reads this ng and why?

taguebwREMOVE at wfu.edu taguebwREMOVE at wfu.edu
Thu Jan 25 19:38:36 EST 2001


I've been reading this NG since about '93 when I was in a post-doc and
starting the job search. At the time, three male post-docs (one being
myself) and two female post-docs from two (scientifically) similar labs
were job hunting. We all had similar CV's, pedigrees and publication
records.

In the first year of the hunt, the two women got about 30 interviews
between them. The three male post-docs got two between them. 

At the risk of being flamed, I'll tell you that I often characterized
reading this newsgroup (tongue-firmly-in-cheek) as "keeping an eye on the
enemy..." 

Before you flame: I *did* understand then (and now) the importance of
getting women into faculty positions. Happily all five of us got jobs....

I've considered myself a feminist since at least the seventh grade -- I've
been arguing for equal rights for women (and by extention equal rights for
every flavor of human) since then. It was easy to see -- for me  -- that
liberating women also meant liberating men.

I'm in a faculty position now and often find myself in the somewhat
strange position of arguing for female job candidates when the women in
our department won't -- I think for fear of backlash from some of the men
in the department. 

I've cited the research showing that the same job folder/grant proposal
etc gets rated lower by *both* men and women, when it is thought that the
folder/proposal comes from a women. Sadly, the warning of our own unseen
biases is not often taken seriously. 

So why do I read it this NG now? 

First, I guess in part to make sure I keep my own biases in check. The
folks that worry me the most are those that say, "I"m not sexist (racist,
ageist, whatever)" It is difficult for a white, male raised in America
*not* to be these things. The key -- for me -- is making sure that you're
aware of the biases inherited from the culture and that you continue to
work to overcome them. Reading about some of the challenges still faced by
women in science makes me examine my dealings with both colleagues and
students. 

Second, as has often been said here in the past, many things characterized
as "women's issues" are really people issues. I spent a lot of time caring
for my step father and for my mother during their battles with cancer.
I've got a 5 year old son and a wonderful wife that I want to spend time
with. Balancing family and job is difficult and I find reading this
newsgroup, if nothing else, makes me realize that lots of folks are
fighting this battle. 

Third, this is probably just about the nicest NG there is on USENET. (I've
been dropping in on talk.politics.misc for the last year or so. You need
your flame retardant undies, 'specially with the recent (s)election). I've
met some of the posters in person and have to say they are as nice in
reality as in virtual reality.

Sorry for the ramble....

Oh, and I *do* remember Mr. Chen! Most unpleasant fellow!

-- 
My 2 electrons,

Brian

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